Reference from Culture (pages 204-205):
Parents often foster more blame when they too were educated in dysfunctional, standardized, youth-restricted school systems.
Federal and state governments increasingly forced their policies on local school systems into the late twentieth century, and still do.
Child guidelines may be as simple as being in class, seated by 8:00 a.m.; keeping only one piece of paper on their desk; picking up paper clippings from the floor; and clearing their desk before leaving school.
Those responsibilities may be a stoical change from overly pampered, school-manipulated parents who have given their children no responsibilities.
Simple rules of the school world are unreasonable to an untethered child who could do whatever he/she wanted any time of day or night. Life has rules. Parents take heed. Civil War President Abraham Lincoln said: “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Reference from Learning (page 61-64):
…Writing between 1911 and 1915, (Willis E. Johnson) tried to blend races through his history and mathematical geography textbooks. (He) wrote a history textbook as:
“Training for industrious, cooperative and intelligent citizenship . . . to stimulate a healthy and intelligent patriotism.”22
Johnson started extracurricular activities (1919–1923) as president of my alma mater, originally South Dakota State College. He emphasized public, reservation, and private schools must train youngsters to be responsible citizens.
“Every subject in the course of study and every activity of the school room and playground may lend direct assistance in training for intelligent and helpful participation in social life.”23
As was common in history books a century ago, it did not help calling Natives “primitive,” but Johnson wanted children to befriend races unlike themselves.
“The word “Dakota” means “A Republic of Friends.” Dakota Indians proudly call themselves “Dah-ko-tahs.” No more honest and upright class of primitive people ever were found, and none, when educated, show more splendid intellect and character.”24
Shunned were those historically dependent on others. Industriousness was a character asset to be built upon. Unfortunately, all students were taught Indians were “primitive.”
History in today’s school system is taught to upper grades, if at all. Just because someone could not attend school regularly did not exempt them from getting an education and learning from history. American historian and novelist, Edward Eggleston (1837–1902), was born in Vevay, Indiana, but due to his sickly nature, he was unable to attend school. Taught primarily by his father, Eggleston became an accomplished author writing over twenty books from The Beginners of a Nation to Pocahontas and Powhatan. In his history book for young readers, A First Book in American History, he wrote to encourage those whose formal education was lacking.
“A beginner’s book ought before all things else to be interesting. A fact received with the attention raised to its highest power remains fixed in the memory; that which is learned listlessly is lost easily . . . (with the) aim to teach children the history of the country by making them acquainted with some of the most illustrious actors in it.”25
Writing in the 1800s Eggleston was one of the first to recognize the faults of formal education. Describing his contemporary, President Abraham Lincoln (1807–1865), Eggleston emphasized education was to be supported by family, but it was an individual responsibility to be thought through with a clear unharnessed mind. Lack of schools, books, and literate classmates were not educational requirements. Two years before my grandfather was born, in 1889 as Eggleston aged, he wrote about Lincoln 24 years after his untimely death by assassination.
“Lincoln could not get many books to read in his community so destitute and illiterate. He read carefully the books that he had, the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, Pilgrim’s Progress . . . over and over again for he could get no other books. He could not have wasted his time and weakened his mind, as so many boys and girls do now. . . . Whenever he heard any subject talked about that he did not understand, he would go off alone and think it out, and try to put it into clear words. This habit of close and careful thinking, and this practice in clothing his thoughts in words that exactly fitted them, was the best education in the world. Many boys and girls who have good schools and good books never learn to think for themselves.”26
In previous centuries continuing through the 1950s, survival needs took priority. Historically, teachers were unsure if students would be in class the next day or following week.
Rural schools, like the two I attended until grade five, had no telephone, radio, television, running water, or indoor toilets. No students drove to school. We occasionally walked. My mother walked or rode a horse a couple of miles to school, and my father rode his bicycle five miles (one way) after finishing chores.
Winter farm chores were too much such that my father had to quit school at age fourteen. Snow was often too deep to walk or ride his bicycle ten miles per day.
In the winter, about a hundred miles away, mother would get up early, finish her farm chores, and walk nearly two miles to school to start the coal stove. For a couple of years her grade school teacher lived several miles away and did not know how to ignite coal. Mother shivered in the small, cold, clapboard building without electricity or telephone for up to an hour while sympathizing more for her classmates than the teacher who arrived by car. At ten to twelve years old, mother would watch out the window for a couple of neighbor kids younger than her bundled on horseback. They rode through Missouri River bluffs in central South Dakota across native pastures, snow camouflaged ravines, creeks, and windswept fields to get to school. She would worry about them traipsing through the drifting snow. Thanks to the efforts of my mother rising early, they were welcomed into the warmed one-room schoolhouse ready to learn.
How many ten-year-olds today are responsible enough to oversee opening a public building and igniting the furnace before others arrive? How many would be trusted to ignite a coal fire in any building? How many youth expect to arrive to heated buildings without giving a wit about who was responsible to ensure comfort while learning? How many youth do an hour of chores before school? How many ten-year-olds take responsibility for younger ones insuring their safe arrival?
Relating to Ancient Learning is a concept lost in three generations.
Actually, responsibility has been lost.
22 23 24 Johnson, Willis E., South Dakota a Republic of Friends, 1915, Pierre, South Dakota: The Capital Supply Company, p. 5, 7, 8.
25 26 Eggleston, Edward, A First Book in American History, with Special Reference to the Lives and Deeds of Great Americans, 1889, New York: American Book Company, pp. preface, 173-174.